The first contest to design the energy hub of the future has concluded in Fusina, Venice

Published on Monday, 24 May 2021

The first of four “The new energy spaces” contests has just concluded, marking a leap forward in the creation of a new life for the Andrea Palladio power plant in Fusina in Venice. Enel launched the contests in July 2020 to design the modern, efficient energy hubs that are required to enable the decommissioning of coal-fired plants in Italy by 2025. The contest, which promoted the involvement of talented youngsters, saw more than 40 architecture firms and professionals taking part. Their proposals were assessed on precise criteria and principles by a selection committee made up of representatives from Enel, the IUAV University of Venice, the metropolitan city and the municipality. The project by the Frigerio Design Group was awarded first place for the best proposal with respect to the objectives of the contest. These were namely to create an energy hub where renewable sources (solar photovoltaic), batteries for energy storage and gas-powered plants are increasingly integrated with the surrounding environment, thanks to projects that reduce the impact on the landscape and that create a new concept of the power plant, including spaces for local communities. The entrants were asked to submit project ideas in line with the principles of sustainability and the circular economy, reusing existing structures that can be adapted to the different phases of the conversion of the plants. The projects that took second and third place also received prizes and these proposals could well be integrated into the executive design phase.

The winner will be assigned the architectural planning of their proposal, the executive design and realization of which will proceed in tandem with the authorization procedures for the various energy projects planned for the site, including the one currently underway relating to the new gas plant.

The project presented by the Frigerio Design Group proposes opening up the power plant to the local area, including in the entrance area a system of circular pavilions to welcome visitors, flanked by spaces for catering and the landscaping of the car park. The external appearance of the site will be made over to provide the structure with new light shapes inspired by the agricultural landscape and the colors of the Veneto plain.

“This contest is a tangible example of our vision of the future of energy,” explains Carlo Tamburi, Head of Enel Italia, “which is designed and created in an open and shared way. Thanks to the contribution from architects and designers and actively involving the local areas through institutions and the University, we are proposing a new idea of the electricity plant. With this project the energy hub in Fusina, which will host more technologies to enable the energy transition, will become a location that is open to the local community, a space that can cohabit with the harmony of the landscape and that will integrate perfectly with the surrounding environment.”

“As Venice celebrates 1600 years since its foundation, it is already looking to the future,” commented Luigi Brugnaro, the city’s mayor. “A good example of this is the result of this contest, with which Enel has experimented with a virtuous method directly involving the metropolitan city and the municipality in the selection of the projects in their initial phase, looking to the city of tomorrow from an industrial, energy and landscape perspective. It is important to rethink industrial areas, and in particular Porto Marghera, in such a way that they can be opened up to local communities and increasingly integrated into their local contexts. This is a perfect fit for our city, which has always been able to combine its beauty with its productive capacity. The reconversion of the Fusina plant, from coal to an energy hub that integrates natural gas, renewables and energy storage systems, confirms that we are at the cutting edge in the challenge of the energy transition and that Venice can attract investment and new jobs by focusing on sustainable technologies.”

“The design contest commissioned by Enel to rethink the energy and architecture of the Fusina plant,” commented Alberto Ferlenga, Dean of the IUAV University, “showed how in this field a virtuous approach and effective partnerships can produce excellent results. Starting with the productive collaboration between Enel, the IUAV University of Venice, the municipality and the metropolitan city, from a tender conceived to best direct the design of a multi-level evaluation process, the contest did in fact produce an excellent outcome in a short space of time. The winning project and the runners up, which were selected from a vast field, offered tangible solutions of a very high quality, both from the perspective of the energy reconversion of the plant, and from the point of view of sharing its spaces and the architectural and environmental quality. This contest has therefore proved to be a practical model from every point of view, in addition to providing the city with a great project to complete.”

The selection criteria concerned the modularity and flexibility of the project based on the various phases of the conversion of the plant: its potential use by the community; the design and visual impact; the social and environmental sustainability of the proposals, with particular attention to circularity and the reuse of existing structures and infrastructure; technological innovation; and the incorporation of new green spaces.

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